‘Cumbersome’ 430B audits ‘pulling health care providers away from patients’
Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, is asking the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to postpone audits related to a discount drug program (340B) to allow hospitals and health centers to put patients before paperwork during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Higgins’s call comes in response to conversations with health care providers, who are already stretched thin working around the clock to prepare for and respond to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Local hospitals that participate in the 340B discount drug program include: ECMC (Buffalo), Kaleida (WNY), Niagara Falls Memorial Medical (Niagara Falls), Sisters of Charity Hospital (Buffalo), Easter Niagara Hospital (Lockport) and Mount St. Mary’s Hospital (Lewiston).
Section 430B of the Public Health Service Act specifies details for the 340B Drug Program, which allows for eligible hospitals, health centers, and clinics to access outpatient drugs at a significantly reduced price. In 2019, close to 13,000 entities participated in the 340B discount drug program.
In a letter to HRSA Administrator Engels, Higgins wrote, in part, “Hospitals are scrambling to source enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to keep their staff and their patients safe, and those performing testing are facing an often daily struggle to obtain enough supplies to continue to complete tests. Preparing for and undergoing 340B program audits requires significant time and attention by multiple departments within a hospital. Given the current realities hospitals are facing, all of their resources must be diverted to treating and containing this pandemic. I therefore urge you to postpone all 340B audits until after this public health crisis has abated.”